WELL Building Standard is a certification introduced in 2014 by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) and administered by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI). Unlike LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design®), which is geared towards environmental sustainability, WELL focuses on the health and well-being of the occupants.
What is the WELL standard?
WELL provides a framework around human health, well-being, productivity, and sustainability with a clear focus on the user occupier. It includes objectives and compliance requirements for a building’s owners and other stakeholders.
WELL V1 covers seven health basics: air, water, food, lighting, fitness, comfort, and mind, for all types of buildings, including commercial, retail, industrial, residential, and restaurant offices.
WELL V2 was published in 2018, incorporating best practices from over 1,000 existing WELL projects and human health research. The categories went from seven to ten: air, water, food, lighting, movement, thermal comfort, sound, materials, mind, and community. This new version of the standard is made up of 110 specifications (performance metrics, design strategies, and policies).
How is the WELL standard obtained?
Features include both preconditions and optimizations. To successfully obtain this certification, the preconditions and weighted optimizations must be accomplished:
1. Universal preconditions
WELL describes a set of universal preconditions that projects must meet in order to be certified. These are mandatory characteristics that are considered indispensable for human health in indoor environments.
2. Flexible optimizations
Flexible optimizations are features that demonstrate additional achievements for the WELL v2 certification. Although is not mandatory, projects can earn additional recognition for higher levels of certification (silver, gold, and platinum).
3. Verification of actions
Certification of a project is calculated using an overall WELL score that encompasses completion of project preconditions and optimizations. Verification is done through an on-site assessment by a WELL assessor. Verification is complete once all respective documents have been submitted and approved.
Optimize efforts in the certification process with Nanoenvi IAQ
The best way to optimize your WELL certification efforts is to use a real-time indoor air quality monitoring system like Nanoenvi IAQ. This device can be a great support tool for WELL architects, designers, sustainability consultants, builders, and project managers in understanding air quality prior to the verification process. On-site performance testing, real-time reporting, and continuous monitoring are requirements for getting WELL certification. Having access to project air quality data prior to performance testing can save time and money. Monitoring indoor pollutant levels with the Nanoenvi IAQ device helps project owners better understand any environmental weaknesses in the indoor space.
Under the fundamental preconditions of air quality, projects must meet certain thresholds for PM particles and organic gases, both verified through performance testing and must also implement an air quality monitoring system, verified through continuous data reports. Also, to satisfy the thermal comfort precondition, a project must demonstrate its ability to control temperature and humidity, something that is very simple through an IoT device like Nanoenvi IAQ.
Section A08 of the WELL standard awards points for continuous monitoring of air quality. Using the Nanoenvi IAQ device is an easy way to meet this requirement.
Nanoenvi IAQ is a professional air quality monitoring device with high-definition sensors, which provides precise and continuous monitoring of environmental parameters such as (PM 2.5 and PM 10, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, VOCS, Temperature, pressure, and humidity). Easy to install, it has integrated WiFi, something that allows you to be connected to the cloud and collect valuable data that will help in decision-making.
Indoor air quality in the WELL standard
The first concept under the WELL standard is air. To improve and achieve good indoor air quality, it proposes various strategies and special attention should be paid to the following parameters
Particulate Matter (PM)
Compliance with the thresholds established by the WELL standard for particulate matter in general interior spaces and construction projects.
- Preconditions: A01 (Fundamental Air Quality)
- Optimizations: A05 (Improved Air Quality) and A12 (Air Filtration)
Some features of WELL focus on reducing particulate levels. IWBI requires WELL applicants to meet strict PM2.5 and PM10 thresholds. These thresholds are based on standards of the World Health Organization (WHO) and other regulatory bodies such as the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and are usually very specific, for example, one aspect of obtaining the Fundamental Precondition of Air Quality (A01). With Nanoenvi IAQ you can effectively monitor indoor particulate matter levels and make improvements to meet standards. For example, if WELL project managers observe that PM thresholds are exceeded, the installation of air filters or some other mechanism to reduce particulate levels may be considered.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Register harmful chemicals and toxins, also known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to make sure they meet permitted concentrations.
- Preconditions: A01 (Fundamental Air Quality)
- Optimizations: A05 (Improved Air Quality) and A13 (Active VOC Control)
Building materials and items such as carpets, furniture, fabrics, cleaning products, adhesives, solvents, and many more everyday cleaning supplies are known to emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs can be easily inhaled through the lungs. Its regular exposure can cause irritation to the eyes, throat, nose, and skin, and prolonged exposure has been linked to outbreaks of eczema, hives, allergies, leukemia, and damage to the kidneys, liver, and central nervous system.
WELL includes features that require effort to reduce VOC levels. Like particulate matter, IWBI has determined specific thresholds for VOC levels based on recommendations from leading healthcare organizations.
Nanoenvi IAQ incorporates a sensor for the measurement of volatile organic compounds in ambient air.
Carbon dioxide (CO2)
Building ventilation management to improve employee productivity and general well-being.
- Preconditions: A03 (ventilation efficiency)
- Optimizations: A06 (improved ventilation)
WELL emphasizes proper building ventilation to keep indoor air quality at healthy levels. Spaces that are not well ventilated can cause their occupants to experience a variety of symptoms, often called sick building syndrome (SBS), such as headaches, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath, and eyes, nose, throat and skin irritation.
Due to its profound impact on human health, WELL includes features that specifically focus on a building’s ability to provide a healthy amount of fresh air and ventilation. How exactly can ventilation be measured and tested? IWBI has found a simple solution: through carbon dioxide.
WELL states that, since it is difficult to test all potential pollutants in a space, carbon dioxide is used as a substitute for other indoor pollutants. Particularly stale air will fill with carbon dioxide, especially in high-occupancy spaces, and carbon dioxide itself can reduce productivity and cause drowsiness.
WELL features like Enhanced Ventilation (A06) require CO2 levels below 900ppm. Nanoenvi IAQ CO2 monitoring can contribute to the design of an effective indoor ventilation strategy.
Control of humidity levels for construction projects to prevent the growth of microbes and mold.
- Preconditions: A04 (Construction Management Pollution)
- Optimizations: A14 (Control of mold and microbes)
Humidity levels must be kept in a precise balance to avoid damage to both the building and the health of the occupants. Too high a humidity can cause discomfort to the occupants and can also cause mold and mildew growth, which affects allergies. Too low a humidity can cause occupants to experience eye, nose, skin and throat irritation.
WELL focuses on the humidity in some of its features to ensure that the project in question is not prone to mold growth; To obtain the Optimization of Microbe and Mold Control (A14), IWBI observes the indoor relative humidity levels to make sure they do not exceed 60%.
Nanoenvi IAQ incorporates a humidity sensor that facilitates the monitoring of the levels of this environmental parameter.
Maintenance of interior comfort:
- Precondition: A04 (Construction Management Pollution)
- All preconditions and optimizations for thermal comfort (T01-T07)
Temperature is another factor that affects the health and productivity of building occupants.
However, this specification is not in the category of air, but of thermal comfort. The use of a device such as Nanoenvi IAQ with a temperature sensor helps to guarantee thermally comfortable indoor environments.
Air quality monitoring
Air quality monitoring itself weighs heavily in the WELL certification score.
- Optimization: A08 (Air Quality Monitoring and Awareness)
IWBI developed the Optimization: A08 (Air Quality Awareness and Monitoring) to encourage projects to become advocates for maintaining and spreading awareness of indoor air quality. This optimization rewards air quality monitoring with additional points that are easy to obtain if the project’s air quality device meets specific requirements: five enterprise-grade self-calibrating sensors and easily accessible data stored on a dashboard.